To attempt to answer this question, last week at our 55th AFCAT session, prior to the Bulleen v Richmond NPL Game at the Veneto Club, we showed a recent skype interview we conducted with a local Icelandic football coach.
BRYNJAR GESTSSON is a UEFA A Licence coach who is currently the Technical Director of THROTTUR FC, a Premier League team based in the capital Reykjavik. Brynjar was kind enough to give us 60 minutes of his time to talk about the recent success of Iceland and what has lead to their 'overnight' success!! The full interview can be viewed within our members only section, but suffice to say, it was a fascinating look at football in this part of the world from a country that has less of a total population than Canberra ( 329,000 compared to 360,000)!!!.
The country has moved up the FIFA rankings from 134 in 2012 to now 31.
Brynjar, who left Iceland to coach in the USA college system for 4 years, before returning to his present role as TD at Throttur talked about his current duties, the structure of football in Iceland and the changes he believed that has lead to this increase in performances and results by the national team.
To summarise the interview, Brynjar indicated that the two main factors to influence the progress forward of Iceland in these past 15-20 years and make them an 'overnight success' has been the investment in coach education and facilities. So again, if we compare Iceland with Canberra, imagine the improvement in grassroots football and youth development in that city of ours if the players had access to 639 UEFA B Licence Coaches and 196 UEFA A Licence Coaches as Iceland have these days. Within Brynjar's club, one of 12 Premier League teams, they have juniors playing from the age of 5 but with their Under 10, 12, 14 and 16 teams they have a team of B and A Licence coaches working full time with these players.( Also note- the juniors up to 12 play small sided football moving onto the full size pitches at 13) On top of the quality coaches now working at this junior level, via funding from UEFA and the Goal Program many dozens of synthetic pitches and indoor facilities were built all over the country , many connected with schools, to allow young players the opportunity to play and train 12 months of the year and not just six months of the year as it was, when for half of the year, due to the cold conditions, football was not possible and grass pitches were unable to be used for lengthy periods. Children now have the opportunity to be involved in programs 12 months of the year with their junior teams, according to Brynjar, playing close to 50 games per year.
The interview is well worth watching in full and once again, AFCAT really appreciates the support we received from Brynjar, to provide this opportunity for our members.
Look out for future interviews we are planning to bring you from around the world and around Australia to discuss certain coaching topics.